Yesterday my brother invited me to see another Capitals game. Man, it was a good one! The Caps were down 4-1, then came back to tie it and eventually win it in overtime. Although Ovechkin looked a little sluggish sometimes, he was on fire shooting 3 of the 5 goals.
After the game, Ryan and I thought we would hang out a while before we tried our luck getting on the Metro. They were only running one train every 30 minutes and the majority of those who came to watch the hockey match came by Metro…so you can imagine what a mess it would be right after the game.
We headed into a Starbucks to take refuge from the cold and chat for a while. I ran into Thomas, a friend who used to live in the same condo as me before he and his wife moved to New York. Well, they moved back and he spotted me in the coffee shop and said hello. It’s a small world.
I approached a woman, Lori, reading the paper at the counter and asked her to accept my $10. She refused, urging me to find someone else more deserving. I get this answer a lot. I try to explain to people that they can do whatever they wish with the money. If you think that you are not deserving of it, why not take a minute out of your day to give it to somebody who you think is deserving of it. I sometimes think people are too lazy to do that…or they just don’t want to be bothered.
I ended up finding Esteban. The 67-year-old Mexican-American was standing, with the help of a cane, next to the Verizon Center. The first thing you notice about Esteban is the fact that he is not wearing any socks or shoes!?!? He has a pair of sandals on. He says that he doesn’t wear socks of shoes because he was poisoned with mercury by some people walking by while he slept and now it is too painful to put anything on his feet.
After a few minutes, I find myself a little confused in the conversation. I switched to Spanish hoping that that would help clear up what he was trying to tell me. Unfortunately, I realize early into my 25 minute chat with Esteban that he most likely suffers from schizophrenia and/or other mental illness. Ok, the lack of shoes and socks should have been a red flag.
I am not sure what to believe about what he tells me. Some details seem normal and very believable. Like the fact that he came to the US in 1984, has been homeless for most of the time, has relatives in Texas, and is originally from Tamaulipas, Mexico. But then there were the bizarre stories. Like the lynching of a bully in a DC shelter or the friendship with a DC police lieutenant or stranger yet, the intimate knowledge he has of a scandal involving the FBI, CIA, and a former DC mayor that caused him to flee the city and end up at the Pentagon.
It was sad. Esteban needs help far beyond what I am able to provide. It takes a while to wrap up the conversation as he retells some of the stories. He said he would use the money to get some food this week. I told him to protect his feet. He explained again about the mercury and how anything he put on his feet hurt. I suspect his feet are frost bit. I urged him to go to a shelter, but he refused.
I wished him luck, shook his hand and nodded to my brother to get on our way. He smiled and hobbled a bit further under the overhang, close to where his bags sat wet from the gray slushy mess that covered the sidewalk.